Employment Do’s and Don’ts
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Many people want and demand a lot out of life. They want the happiest family, the best material goods and vacations, the best homes, and the best cars. They demand the best in everything. They also want the best jobs and the most advancement. Often, these same people feel very angry and upset if life does not provide them the things they want.
A lot of people are very upset with the world. They are angry about jobs they have lost. They are angry about advancements and breaks they have not received. In fact, these people believe the world owes them a lot. Most often, when people are angrily telling you how much the world owes them they are sitting around not doing much of anything. They may be talking to someone else in a bar. They may be talking on their cell phone during the day when they are supposed to be working. There are many who believe they are owed something.
I want to tell you one of the more inspiring stories I’ve heard. Several years ago I was practicing law, and a man in the office next to me worked extremely hard. He had a history of high achievement. He’d been the valedictorian at the University of Iowa Law School. He’d come over to this firm from another law firm. He wanted to be a partner. Most law firms require you work at the firm a certain number of years before they will make you a partner, and this law firm was no different. I believe at that time the firm had a charter which said people needed to work there for three full years before they could be considered for a partnership position.
At the end of this man’s second year, after billing over 3,000 hours each year, he was not made partner. The reaction of most attorneys would have been to accept the fact they are not being made partner due to the fact the charter required them to work there for three years. This man was different, however. He was someone who was interested in always trying his hardest, and sometimes trying your hardest means ignoring the rules of how things are working around you.
In the month of January, after not making partner, this man billed over 400 hours. Since there are only 720 hours in the average month, this essentially meant he was working very long days seven days a week and sleeping very little.
He did the same thing in February.
He did the same thing again in March.
After seeing the incredible amount of hours he had been working, in early April the firm decided to call a special meeting, amend their charter, and make him a partner. The firm simply felt it had no choice. They had to make him partner or else the man might have ended up killing himself from too much work. This is an example of really trying your hardest. This is the sort of reaction to a perceived setback very few attorneys would ever have. This man was different, however, and is an example of someone who simply did not give up.
The only excuse for not having the job you want, the life you want, and everything you want out of life is you did your best and did not get it. I have a secret for you, however, and I think it is something you may have failed to realize your entire life: you have never done your best with anything you have attempted. You have never really given 100 percent at anything. Imagine what is going to happen for you when you start trying to give 100 percent. I am very excited to see what happens when you start trying to hit 100 percent.
When you think about the example of this attorney it may not seem that significant until you really think it through. In order to work this hard you need to push your body beyond exhaustion. You need to push your mind well beyond exhaustion. You need to get other attorneys to give you the work that will allow you to bill this much. You need to give everything you can even when the rules appear to be against you. You need to do everything in your power to achieve what you want to do.
Have you ever run a marathon? I have not and wish I had. A marathon is something that teaches people to give their all. The distance they have to run is taxing on their bodies. They need to use their minds to overcome the resistance in their bodies. They need to keep pushing even when they feel they cannot go on.
You can likely point to many instances in your life where you may have come close to giving 100 percent and believe you made a major effort. Perhaps this was trying to get a job, working for a promotion, or related to a personal matter. My belief is you never really gave the full 100 percent, though. In fact, you probably have never given 100 percent at anything you have ever done.
I would like to propose to you a way of life and a way of being in the world where you start giving close to 100 percent and doing your best in every possible thing you can. This means in every single thing you do in the future you need to make a major effort and do your best to succeed. Before I do that, though, I would like to tell you another quick story.
When I played football in high school, I always noticed my grades were better during the season. When you think about this, it does not make a lot of sense. After all, I would be out practicing for several hours a day and even traveling sometimes to play. I was not alone in this. Most football players get better grades during the football season. That’s because when they do sit down to study they are more careful with their time and know it is important to be very focused during this time. Another reason for this, I think, is that they are in better shape. Their minds work better because their bodies are in better shape. They are “at their best,” so to speak.
There is a lot you can do in terms of trying your best. You can discipline your mind to enable you to push yourself harder. You can read and research about how to do better at what you are doing. You can practice. You can pray. You can interview and learn from people who are the best at what you are doing. You can always push yourself to do better in everything that you do.
One of the disciplines I practice is Kundalini yoga. I enjoy this form of yoga not just because it is relaxing but because, at its highest level, what it does through various actions is force your mind and your body to their absolute limits. When you push your mind, you also push your body, and when you go through the various exercises you become a completely different person. You go past what you thought was possible. A Kundalini exercise, for example, may involve holding your arms outstretched, keeping them straight, and flapping them each up and down six inches. An exercise like this can be easily done for a minute or so, but when you keep doing it for, say, seven minutes, it becomes next to impossible. You need to condition your mind to give it your all. Your arms, and your shoulders start hurting tremendously. At some point, however, the pain stops. When you break through the pain you are able to live your life on the other side.
Kundalini yoga is very effective because it can teach people how to give life their all.
Trying your hardest is about coming up against your limits, pushing through, and doing this time and again. You need to continually push through every possible limit you have. If you are going to do the best you can in anything, you need to use your mind and your body. You need to learn from others. You need to become fixated on doing everything possible to succeed. This is how you achieve your dreams and this is how you live the life you want. The people who succeed in life and reach their full potential are the people who push all the way through their limits.
In the book Think and Grow Rich, there is a very inspiring story:
One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another. An uncle of R. U. Darby caught the “gold fever” in the gold-rush days, and went west to dig and grow rich. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was definite.
After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, and retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland. He then told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, and had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.
The first car of ore was mined and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then came the big killing in profits.
Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and uncle! Then something happened! The vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again – all to no avail.
Finally, they decided to quit. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. Some “junk” men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling! That is exactly where they found it!
Most people miss the gold in their life because they do not try their hardest. In this story, the Darbys trying their hardest would have simply involved continuing to drill and researching exactly what needed to be done. The world is composed of so many parts and so many variables. You can always find a variable to push through and will always succeed when you do.
When I was about 10 years old the most important assignment we had in grade school that year was to spend three months writing a report about a country. I was assigned Russia. Over the next three months I made writing about Russia an important goal. I found every book in the elementary school library and even had my father take me to the downtown Detroit library on Saturday to check out as many books as I could possibly find. When the day came for putting my report together I had to put the chapters in multiple rooms because there were so many of them. It took three large binders to fit the entire report together and when all was said and done the report was over 400 pages.
Why would I write a report like this? Why would any 10 year old do something like this? Personally, I did it because I learned somewhere along the line the best thing you can do is try as hard as you can, and that you do not always get the opportunity to shine and do your best. Most people never try as hard as they can or do their best. Who knows why this is? A culture of sorts exists that actually seems to be against people doing their best.
Develop the habit of pushing yourself and always doing your best. I look back on my time in elementary school and know – as ridiculous as this sounds – that I always did my best. People who always do their best are sought out by others, and everyone wants these people to work with them, and for them.
When I was practicing law some of my first clients were people who knew me when I was a very young man. They found out I was an attorney and sought me out from all over the United States. They did this because they knew whatever issues they had I would fight like hell for them and do my best. While kids may have made fun of me when I was in elementary school for working so hard, they practically lined up to talk to me once they knew I could go to work for them.
For years after I stopped practicing law, I used to get calls from former co-workers who were starting their own firms. They wanted me to give up recruiting and come to work with them practicing law. They called me because they knew I would do my best.
People want to work with people who do their absolute best. The rewards from doing your best far eclipse what waits for people who make a mediocre effort. Try your hardest in every single thing that you ever do, and make the most of your life.
The rewards for not trying your best are few and far between. You can choose to live an average life and have average results if you choose. You will not inspire others around you if you do. People will not seek you out to do work. You will not respect yourself as much.
Nothing makes me angrier than someone not trying his best. You have been gifted with a life and this life is your chance to make the most of everything. Try your hardest and never give up. Always do the absolute best you can with everything. This is what you are entitled to, and deserve.
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